New player blues

I have recently come across this amazing game while off work with ankle injury. I have played a few games against a beginner bot with little success at first but slowly felt that I was improving in the game and with some games with real players I even managed to get my rating to 22 k and was feeling quite good at my progress small as it may be.
Then recently I lost as I do many times of course, and expect to lose continuously through my gaming experience its part of the game sure, one wins and one loses obviously, I have no false ideas of getting even close to understanding the game in such a short time. When I checked the stats of the other player I found that he had over three thousand games played with many higher ranked opponents. Though his rank was below mine! surely a player with this experience should be ranked higher. It seemed an unfair match considering his experience. Am I deluded to expect fair play or is this the nature of online games. Or maybe I’m being whiny and should suck it up lol. Is there a way to play these games without rank being crashed. Thanks for your thoughts.


Play for fun and seek to enjoy your games, just for the sake of playing and learning. Don’t worry much about your rank. That is bound to fluctuate as it is just a number that’s not too accurate nor very meaningful.

Some players might play a lot of games and still not rank very high, while others pick up the game much quicker. Again, it’s not about the number next to your name, but rather that you’re having fun playing. I feel that it’s better to learn something from a stronger opponent that shows me my mistakes rather than just trying to make a rating number increase.

It’s kind of like running, where one can always win races by finding slower opponents, but what’s more meaningful is finding faster opponents that challenge one to actually improve, and perhaps what’s even more important is simply the enjoyment and fulfillment inherent to the exercise itself.

I’ve been playing for a while now, and still not very good, but I think this meme sums up how I feel about the game.


Thanks, sound advice :slight_smile:

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Experience is different from play strength. One player can in a few months get stronger than another player who played for 30 years. But then that quick player can hit plateau and be same strength for years despite gaining experience and learning new things.

Ranks are more or less reliable way of telling opponent’s strength. Experience doesn’t matter. Much.


Welcome @earthechoes to the wonderful game of go and to OGS. There are certainly some players who have played a lot but not advanced beyond TPK level for whatever reason. On the other hand, there are also sandbaggers who manipulate their rank (or create new accounts) to keep their rank artificially weak. Sandbagging is not allowed, and we vigorously try to stop it whenever it comes to our attention. If you suspect someone of sandbagging, you can file a report by clicking on the player’s name and clicking the “Report” button. The moderation team will investigate.


Thanks for the welcome Conrad. I guess some have no respect for the game or others who like to play an honest match.
Yebells hit the nail on the head about enjoying the game for the sake of the game. I really am astounded by the scope of the game. Was never really a board game player, and while off work with injury I came across the alpha go match with Lee sedol on youtube, it intrigued me and on further investigation drove me to want to learn to play. and brought me here :slight_smile:


I like the use of painting as a metaphor for playing Go. In East Asia culture, playing traditional board games, like chess, Go, are associated with other skills and talents like playing instruments, painting, and calligraphy (琴棋書畫). And like learning a language, the earlier you start, the more intuitive you get. However, not everyone would be able to write poems, let alone becoming a poet.

If we equate Go with painting, it would be like 2 people trying to finish a painting but with their own pictures in mind, and use as few strokes as possible to get there. You can borrow your opponent’s stroke to help your progress, but borrowing too much, would usually just end up in a mess. Although you would probably still have fun :paintbrush: :stuffed_flatbread: making them. I feel it’s one of the things why kids learned quicker, they don’t even know what rank even means, they just want to have fun.


Welcome earthechoes - your story reminded me of my own - as I joined OGS shortly after watching Michael Redmond commenting on the Lee Sedol vs AlphaGo games in 2016. Like countless generations of Go players before me, I then stumbled forward, hitting my head against any number of brick walls until I started teasing out little clues and bits of understanding on my own.

I have found it helpful to think of Go through the metaphor of learning a martial art with a belt/rank system. So, if you start a kung fu class as a white belt, you’re going to be taught some fundamentals/basics and then - once you have a good handle on those - you augment them with other skills and techniques that build on those foundations, allowing you to progress from one stage to the next.

Because of this, trying to spar with more experienced students may become frustrating because they understand so many more techniques than you do. Not only will you “lose” but you may have a difficult time understanding WHY and HOW it happened, and not be able to apply any learning to doing something differently next time.

As such, I strongly encourage you to seek out games against opponents that will be somewhat close to your rank and level (i.e. 20-25 kyu players) - or alternately - use the OGS forum to ask for more advanced players to offer you teaching games, so you can benefit from their experience.

Lastly, I’ve been working on a (long) series of articles that tries to shorten that period of confusion by introducing beginners to some fundamental concepts and elements of the game - something that I felt was sorely missing when I first began learning. If you start at this first article here, you should be able to find links to the subsequent articles at the bottom of each previous one.

Good luck!


Welcome to OGS and glad you found this beautiful game.

Like others have said for starter don’t pay to much focus on Ranks, find a way to enjoy this game. It’s easier to learn something while you’re happy and not under pressures, and. i found some beginners just gave up because they can’t climb up as fast as possible.

You will met more sandbaggers in future, so don’t feel threatened to them, You could ask Mod when it happens.
Most of people here don’t bite, so, if you have any question or want to reviewing a game, iam sure people will help you out. So, don’t afraid to ask.

Hope your passionate about Igo will last long. Cheers~


A more prosaic answer is that OGS has, for reasons that seem to be unexplained, removed the 25-30k ranks, meaning that the five ranks – or more – of skill difference below 25k are now unrepresented.

With such vagueness, matchups are bound to be unpredictable.


To be fair, one of the reasons given why those lower ranks are not used is because those who did the maths determined that they would not be good predictors of matchups at that level.

For the OP - if you are intersted in improvement rather than solely the fun of the shapes on the board, and apply yourself to it, you will almost certainly start moving up through the TPK ranks and your matchups will become more predictable, as you leave that zone where there are many factors that make it more chaotic.

There are a fantastic range of options to get help, ranging from asking for teaching here in the forum, to all various internet teachers out there. here’s what worked for me, in a thread where others discuss the same.


I don’t know. It seems to me that your experience, if accurate, reveals a bug in the rating system. I’m not surprised, because good rating systems are devilishly hard to design, in my opinion.

Care to elaborate on what that bug it?

Your comment comes with interesting timing, given that the rating system revamp was released just yesterday :slight_smile:

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